Trapping Reform in Wyoming

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Bill Introduced to Wyoming State Legislature to Trap and Snare Mountain Lions

Wyoming Untrapped received alarming news about a bill being considered by the Wyoming Legislature which would legalize trapping and snaring of mountain lions, already hunted with hounds. HB0012 is co-sponsored by Rep. Jim Allen, R-Lander, along with Rep. Hans Hunt, Senate Republicans Eli Bebout and Larry Hicks.

Wyoming Untrapped strongly opposes HB0012 to allow trapping and snaring of mountain lions. In light of the recent widespread uptick in concern, by people everywhere, about the extreme and unnecessary suffering inflicted upon our wildlife by trapping, we find it unconscionable that Wyoming politicians would seek to expand trapping opportunity to include mountain lions. The indiscriminate nature of trapping interferes with science based population management of our carnivores, and allows unknown loss of non-target species.

WU is reaching out to our Wyoming supporters, urging you to take-action by sending your comments to your state Legislators in opposition of HB0012.  Our Legislators are more likely to acknowledge and respond to local resident comments.

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Mountain Lion in Leghold Trap, shared by Tom Knudson

Image and background story shared by two-time Pulitzer Award winning investigative reporter, Tom Knudson. 



The indiscriminate nature of trapping means that
more mountain lion females, including kittens, could be killed.


Forensic evidence confirmed this was real, and the remains of a trapped mountain lion found in the Bitterroots of Montana. It was found along with claw marks up a tree in which the mountain lion must have tried to escape.
Shared by Trap Free Montana Public Lands.


These talking points, compiled by The Cougar Fund (, will help you to justify your opposition:

.  Traps and Snares are indiscriminate.  Cougars and other carnivores that are caught in traps or snares may chew off a limb in an effort to escape.

.  Mountain lions, including kittens, or mothers with dependent young, are often disabled by being caught in a trap or snare, even if released.  The loss of a tooth or toe mean they will be unable to hunt and survive.  Many cougars that have been killed or found dead of debilitation or malnutrition have physical evidence of having been trapped.

.  The indiscriminate nature of trapping means that more females, including mothers and kittens, will be killed since their home range is smaller and they do not travel great distances like their male counterparts.  Mothers with dependent young are especially vulnerable as they repeatedly hunt and return to their kittens, leaving tracks to show their path.

.  Traps and snares are baited with animal scents…this is an attractant to all animals including endangered species such as lynx, threatened species such as grizzly bears, and species of special concern such as wolverines.  Ungulates, including mule deer and bighorn sheep have been recorded as incidental take in traps.

.  The Wyoming Game and Fish Department never allow the public to trap and snare large game or trophy game animals.

. The Wyoming game and Fish Department already has effective and proven management tools in place for responding to specific lions that may have the potential to affect public safety.

.  Other states such as Montana, Idaho, Minnesota and Maine have been litigated against successfully in cases concerning incidental take of protected animals.

.  The traps could prove dangerous to recreationalists, whether hunters or non-hunters, especially if they are accompanied by children, sporting hounds, or companion animals. Dogs are just as attracted to the scenting as wild animals and will be drawn to the traps to investigate.

.  Inadvertently encountering a large animal already in a trap is a serious public safety issue. If young animals are trapped or snared, their mother will almost certainly be in the area.

.  The Bill has been introduced as a method to increase mule deer numbers. Current best science has repeatedly shown that any improvement in mule deer numbers from extraordinary pressure on cougars is extremely ineffective and unsustainable. Mule deer are threatened by disease and environmental factors such as habitat loss and fragmentation. Reduction in forage quality plays an especially important role in mule deer physical condition, reproductive health and fawn survival.

.  Between 2009 and 2015, 11 mountain lions were unintentionally caught in furbearer traps. During that same period 24 deer (23 mule, 1 white tail) were also caught. Mountain lions and deer occupy the same habitat. Larger traps for dedicated mountain lion mortality will most definitely kill the deer the initiative is mistakenly intending to save.

.  WGFD has invested significant financial resources and dedicated time, energy, research and citizen participation in the Wyoming Mule Deer Initiative. They are starting to see some turnaround in survival and indicators of recovery with the current focused management. Trapping and snaring of cougars is not part of the plan.

.  We NEED cougars and other large carnivores on the landscape – they are positive contributors to biodiversity.

.  Trapping and snaring directly contradicts Wyoming’s Mountain Lion Management Plan, which encourages selectivity and forbids killing of mothers with kittens or spotted independent cougars. HB0012 is at odds with this requirement.

.  HB0012 says the Wyoming Game and Fish SHALL promulgate regulations for this legislation. That wording is inconsistent with the responsibility for management decisions being with WGFD and indicates inappropriate political influence by the Legislature.

Administering trapping and snaring of mountain lions would face serious challenges. Current regulations allow one mountain lion to be taken with a valid license. This would also be required of those choosing to trap mountain lions, therefore, a limit of one trap would be necessary to avoid taking more than one animal at a time…it would be in clear violation to set trap LINES, designed to capture more than one animal simultaneously if only one is permitted. Multiple traps, or single traps set by multiple trappers, could easily exceed the harvest mortality limit set by the professional biologists of WGFD. Setting traps would be the equivalent of several people setting out to hunt in different directions with one license between them! 


**Cover image:  This mountain lion escaped with the trap still attached.  Shared by Footloose Montana.






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